There is no need to mourn the death of Roger Ailes. Many may reply to this, shaking their fists and the words "respect for the dead" on the tip of their tongues. To them, I would ask, "Do you have respect for victims of AIDS, victims of the slow violence of no healthcare coverage, victims of the cycles of inescapable poverty that capitalism perpetuates, victims of deportation or death at the U.S. border?" Ailes certainly did not. So why, then, should I have any respect for him in life or in death?
For those of you who do not know, Ailes was the CEO of right-wing news network Fox News until 2016. He is responsible for the political campaigns of such right-wing giants as Ronald Reagan (who, to name just a few positions, remained passive in the face of the AIDS crisis; believed that those in gay sexual relationships and those who had pre-marital sex were “sinners”; and that Medicaid/care were evil). As an aside, despite tacitly endorsing these antiquated views on sex and morality, Ailes finally resigned from Fox due to sexual harassment allegations. Funny, that.
Ailes allegedly made multiple unwanted sexual advances toward female Fox anchors (and supported Bill O'Reilly when he received parallel accusations. Ailes's victims included Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, as well as several anonymous women (who, like many women who are victims of sexual abuse, feel unable to reveal their identities and experiences due to a culture of shame around female sexuality). To compound this, Andrea Tantaros also came forward with the statement that she was "first demoted and eventually taken off the air in April 2016" after coming forward with complaints about this treatment.
Apart from these direct instances of sexual harassment, Ailes took what seem to be typical behavioral markers of the abusive husband to the extreme. A "random" violent temper kept those around him on edge. He lobbed ad hominem attacks at anyone who got in his way–– including violently antisemitic remarks. David Zaslav, then-NBC executive, was the victim of such remarks, that ended not in slurs but in death threats.
Lastly, Ailes's myopic, hyperconservative empire–– Fox News–– helped to build and elect Donald Trump. Not, as many would like to assume, by appealing exclusively to the (gasp!) white working class, but rather, to visiting suburban whites, especially middle-aged and older, in their homes. Trump had long frequented Fox & Friends, endearing himself to voters who would later come to passionately, and often violently, support his bigoted and oppressive platforms.
Though Ailes is dead, his legacy of misogyny, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, and other bigotry will live on. The women who suffered under him will still have to carry their suffering; we living in America will still have to live with (or die from) 45. And, emboldened in large part by the normalization of Fox News politics, those who express violent hatred toward minority groups will increase in number. It is impossible to think of Ailes's life without connecting it intimately to the evil in the world we live in today–– and this is exactly why I do not mourn him.
Respect for him in death is pointless when he had earned no respect in life, either.